The Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9 launching Crew Dragon in Demo-2 mission from Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020. The rocket's distinguishing black thermal-protection coating on the interstage is discernible.
|Function||Partially reusable orbital medium-lift launch vehicle|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Height||70 m (230 ft) with payload fairing|
|Diameter||3.66 m (12.0 ft)|
|Mass||549,054 kg (1,210,457 lb)|
|Payload to LEO (28.5°)|
|Payload to GTO (27°)|
|Payload to Mars|
|Mass||4,020 kg (8,860 lb)|
|First flight||May 11, 2018|
|Engines||9 Merlin 1D+|
|Thrust||7,607 kN (1,710,000 lbf)|
|Fuel||Subcooled LOX / chilled RP-1|
|Engines||1 Merlin 1D Vacuum|
|Thrust||934 kN (210,000 lbf)|
|Fuel||LOX / RP-1|
Falcon 9 Block 5 is a partially reusable two-stage-to-orbit medium-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured in the United States by SpaceX. It is the fifth version of Falcon 9 Full Thrust, powered by SpaceX Merlin engines burning liquid oxygen (LOX) and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellants.
The main changes from Block 3 to Block 5 are higher-thrust engines and improvements to the landing legs. Numerous other small changes helped streamline recovery and re-usability of first-stage boosters, increase production rate, and optimize re-usability. Each Block 5 booster is designed to fly 10 times with only minor attention and up to 100 times with refurbishment.
In 2018, Falcon 9 Block 5 succeeded the transitional Block 4 version. The maiden flight launched the satellite Bangabandhu-1 on May 11, 2018. The CRS-15 mission on June 29, 2018 was the last Block 4 version of Falcon 9 to be launched. This was the transition to an all-Block 5 fleet.
The Block 5 design changes are principally driven by upgrades needed for NASA's Commercial Crew program and National Security Space Launch requirements. They include performance upgrades, manufacturing improvements, and "probably 100 or so changes" to increase the margin for demanding customers.
In April 2017, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that Block 5 will feature 7–8% more thrust by uprating the engines (from 176,000 pounds-force (780,000 N) to 190,000 pounds-force (850,000 N) per engine). Block 5 includes an improved flight control system for an optimized angle of attack on the descent, lowering landing fuel requirements.
For reusability endurance:
For rapid reusability:
The NASA certification processes of the 2010s specified seven flights of any launch vehicle without major design changes before the vehicle would be NASA-certified for human spaceflight, and allowed to fly NASA astronauts. The initial Block 5 boosters did not have the redesigned composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV2) tanks. The first booster with COPV2 tanks was booster B1047 on the Es'hail 2 mission on November 15, 2018, and the second booster using the COPV2 tanks was CRS-16/B1050, which had its first launch on December 5, 2018.
The v1.2 design was constantly improved upon over time, leading to different sub-versions or “Blocks”. The initial design, flying on the maiden flight was thus referred to as Block 1. The final design which has largely stayed static since 2018 is the Block 5 variant.